Based on extensive Edmunds.COM research, I decided to purchase an '04 6s Wagon. I considered the Outback Impreza, but at 6'1" and desiring a powerful V6, I went with the Mazda. I love the style of the car and the power of the V6, but have noticed pretty horrendous gas mileage since day 1 (17-22 mpg (max)). There is a ton of cargo space in this car. I can fit a full adult bike, golf clubs, and luggage for 2 for a week with the seats folded down. Long road trips are pretty comfortable, although the low ground clearance makes getting in and out cumbersome. Recently, thick plumes of gray smoke emit upon startup. Dealer is perplexed. 3 weeks in the shop on 3 occasions yielded nothing.
Interior design, storage space, Bose system, Sport-Model molding/trim. V6 is powerful on the highway.
Fuel economy needs to be improved to compete. Over time, little creaks and rattles have become annoying. IPOD jack needed. Fix the smoking issue, it's really nasty.